tv Charlie Rose WHUT January 26, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am EST
program. tonight the national security advisor to president obama, tom donilon for the hour. >> with respect to this operation the president has been monitoring this situation for an extended period of time. shortly after she was captured on october 25th. he got regular updates from us on this as he would in the case of any american who was kidnapped. we became increasingly concerned about this over time, and by the middle of january, it was reported to him tat all th sources that we had became concerned about her healh. and he decided that we needed to take a very close look at planning for her care and rescue. the mitary had been doing hat planning but it was brought forward to him to take a look at.
opportunity arose on monday the day before the state of the union address. they refined, the military refined the plan. we did have increasing concerns about misbe ms. buchanan's heal. that evening it was presented to him and he approved it. now on the operation and you heard leonp panetta talk today. he had an asset no other is nation ithe world has and that asset is our special operations forces who can go anywhere in the world and accomplish extraordinary things. it's a capability that we have built up over the last decade or so in a very intense way. again no oter nation has and this is just a group of individuals in whom the president has tremendous confidence. they've developed these techniques again and these skills that nobody else has. >> charlie: tom donilon president obama national securi advisor for the hour, next.
>> charlie: tom donilon is here he's the president of the national securitadvisor one of the most trusted 1r0eusz in the obama administration. he leads the daily national security meetings at te white house. today leon panetta announced a number of budget cuts. here's a look at what he said. >> coming out of the wash and dealing with budget reductions of this magnitude, the military would be smaller. but the key, as tough as it was to make the decisions with
regards to drawing these down. the key is to fashion an agile and flexible military force that we need in the future. what that means for the services is that we will have an adaptable and batt-tested army that is our nation's fore for decisive action. capable of defeating any adversary on land. let me say that again. capable of defeating any adversary on land. we will have a significant land force presence in places lke korea and in the middle east. but at the same time, we will emphasize special operations forces. and we'll also emphasize a rotational presence so that we can establish the kind of partnerships that i discussed. and provide training and advice in other parts of the world.
>> charlie: this move reflects a growing focus like bin laden an somalia raids. it comes at a critical of american foreign policy withdrawal from iraq and the draw down in afghanistan. i'm very pleased to have tom donilon back at this tabl welcome. >> thank you, charlie. >> charlie: the specifics on the somalia raid. when does the president get involved in th kind of operation. and in which operations does he have to give the final go? >> with respect to this operation, the president had been monitoring the situation of jessica buchanan for an extend peod of time. shortly after she was captured on october 25th. he got regular updates from us on this, as he would in the case of any american who was kidnapped. we became increasingly oncerned about this over time. and by the middle of january, it was reported to him that all the forces that we had became concerned about her health.
and he decided that we needed to take a very close look at planning for procuring her rescue. the military had been doing that planning but he wanted it brought forward to him to take a look at it. opportunity arose on monday, the day before the state of the union address. they refined, the miitary refined the plan. we did hae increasing concerns about misbuchanan' misbeu ms. b. he was given the plan and approved it. early in the evening in washington time on tuesday the night of the state of the union. >> charlie: preparing for the state of the union. >> about a quarter to 6:00 he was preparing for the state of the union address. when the u.s. military forces are going to undetake operations that is in a foreign culpatory and put them in harm's way and this operation had to be reported to the congress and the war powers act bcause they were combat equipped. that kind of decision comes from
the president. the concept of operations comes from the president and he reserves for himself the approval of that kind of operation again in a foreign country, combat equipped troops, executing a mission. those come to the president for approval. >> charlie: so when he went into the house of representatives and saw panetta, he knew it was a success. >> yes. he knew they had been able to get in. it was still ongoing but we thought it was going to be a success. at's interesting here though on the decisiois that what's important and what is our responsibility is the president's staff is to ensure that he's kept informedalong the way so that he can be thinking about this, right, and considering the various issues and ascts of it, in advance of having to make the decision. so he was quite familiar ith her circumstance, he was familiar with the group of criminals who had taken her. he became familiar with her health situation, and he had had initial briefings on what kind of operation could be
undertaken. now on the operation, and you heard leon panetta earlier today talk about the defense budget. here was anher example of an asset that no other nation in the world has and that asset is our special operations forces who can go anywhere in the world and accomplish extraordinary things. and it's a capability we have built up over the last decade or so in a very intense way. again, no other nation has, and this is just a group of individuals in whom the president has trmendous confidence. and they've developed these techniques again and these skil that nobody else has. >> charlie: it was the same unit that but not necessarily the same people. >> i don't want to get into -- >> charlie: i'm not asking for names. >> it was a -- >> charlie: same unit, special forces. >> i don't want to comment on that. it was a speci forces group that undertook this mission. leon panetta said today, are this is going to be one of the
priorities in terms of continued investment in our mility. that is focused on our having this abity and enhancing this and continuing to train right after we come out of iraq and as of december 31st, 2011 as we draw down in afghanistan, continue to invest in this glob asset of our special forces, are as well as all that supports it. be transforation aspects of it, the intelligence aspects of it. and as we make dcisions, and that was really the importance of what he was saying today, if over the course you're asked about decisions. over the course of the period from the time the budget contl in the summer of last year through the announcement of this budget, the president was driving this strategic review. focus came to the presidenfolksd we got to reduce the increase on the defense budget. the classic thing you do in any organization you reduce it by some fixed percent. all right if we have to reduce 5% in the next ten years we'll
take 5% off everything. the presidentrejected itand said i appreciate the effort but that's not what i want to do this time. i want strategy to drive it. so you make those kinds of choices. you make the choice tween maintaining a very large potential stabilization force of 100,000 to kind of do the kinds of operations that we did in iraq and afghanistan. or you think harder about what we really need to invest in and you move that money to stuff like assets like the speial operations force and the thing to support them. >> charlie: because of increased efficiency, productivity, a different deployment, a use of technology and other means that we now v you can live with the budget cuts that are part of the economic reality today. >> i think that's right. three big thing drive the defense budget decisions right now. the end of the wars. geo strategic and as you said exactly right, technological change was taking place. and the national security imperative of reducing our
deficits over time which is a national security issue. those three things came together to drive the choices that the president made. now, as i said, this was not a process where we have just taken it down 5% across the board. the president and second panetta and his team led by a chairman marty densey, the chairman of the jointschiefs made choices and came to the president. the core ones are again the assets we're incesting in. the geography. where do wethink we need to be heavily invested. and the choice is set up very clearly which is the middle east and asia, which we can talk about. again, investing in those technologies that we need re going forward. and most importantly, continuing to keep the faith with the force. >> charlie: panetta is new to this team even though he's at the cia. >> yes. >> charlie: give me a sense of it. what is it that you think you people have? is it trust, is it nobody's trying to fight for turf?
what is it? >> i think it's a number of things. one is the tone set by the president. the president insists on having things come to him in an organized systematic way, in ways that have been fully consider by all the important perspectives, number one. and he does set the tone. frankly if you went in to the president and said i would like to make x, y and z decision and you were a cabinet member, he would say well have you talked to leon. have you rn through tom's process. what are all the angles here, why isn't it written down. he demands and expects decisions come to him in a timely but fully considered way. so he sets the ton, i think. second, i think is the process we've set up where we've tried, we have set up a process that i think engenders trust. it's a process where we work these problems through together. when we have a meeting that i might chair, i put out a summary
of that meeting, within 24 hours in writing so people can comment on it and comeac and say that's not exactly what we decided, you know. or i would like coy. >> charlie: your conclusion -- >> that's important in a ocess, you kow. i think the most important thing though is the competence of the individuals and the respect they have for each other. >> crlie: we have a picture of bin laden while you guys were watching tha >> i think that's exactly right. when i sat in the chair of the principal are meetings which is below the chair of the national security council meetings but the day in day out meetings at the cabinet level. i'll chair and look down that table. and you have vice president biden and secretary clinton both of whom ran for re president in 2008. leon panetta and before him bill gates and petraeus and hoeber.
it's people who were secure and trusteeach other. that was an example in the bin laden process. 24 interagency meetings from august 2010 until the time, many of them leading up to the raid in a single leak. and people do act in a responsible and respect 2368 way. >> charlie: this is interesting about this president to me. during the 2008 campaign many people tried to argue that this man did not have te experience to be president. and the thing that he had the ast experience, foreign affairs, is the thing that he's getting the highest marks for. >> the president is he a very good decision-makerrer. >> charlie: the thing he had the least experience about. >> he really understands, are he's been thinking about these issues for a long time and he assembled the team. >> charlie: you c't think about the idea of going tobin laden inside another country. i'm not sure that when you're a senate senator from illinois or when you're a senator you think about that that way. >> you can put together a group, i think what the president very
consciously did of people whom he trust and he thought about it as a team. how will these people work together. and what's the quality of advice that they're going to give. and can i get a process which he demanded, right, that is a process of organize and respectful process to bring things forward. and the last piece of it is an inherent thin. i think you're right which is my observation, the president i now, you mentioned at the outset i'm president fo responsible foe president's daily briefing which is about 30 or 40 minutes vry morning where we bring the key intelligence and national security issues to him. i think i now led 530 mornings of thoe. >> charlie: man, i would love to be there. >> he is a natural executive. in my observation. >> charlie what is aatural executive. >> someone who can put together a team, oversee a process, take all the input, ask the ight questions, come to a conclusion
and make a dcision. and it's absolutelycritcal in the area where i work not to let ansector and to actually make a decsion and be comfortable with it. and he, you know, the bin laden raid is a goo example where he explored every angle of it, right and would sit there himself and go question after question and get himself to a position where he can make a decision. he has a very fine executive ability. >> charlie: it's interesting that's where the republicans are going to say we need a ceo in the whitehouse and we need experience running a business. >> again on the area that i have the closest observation, if you will, with the decision-making and the national security area, this nation is well served by a person as i said earlier, has obviously the ken intelligence and deep knowledge base. but he is a natural executive. he's a natural decision making. he makes decisions comfortably and he makes if you have decisions and he doesn't
equicate. >> charlie: president obama is very much interested in the larger question, if his works, what happens then. and how does this affect that and what would this country do. >> very much so. he expects us as his team to be deeply into the details and to ask all the right questions and he will spot a theme and an issue and go at it. but he does look at the bigger picture. and will ask, have you thought about the counterargument. if we don't do this, what's going to appear. what will be the reaction two or three stages going forward here if we take, if we take this action. as i said, i think the best summary is he's very much a natural. so the critique that you lay out doesn't, it doesn't ring true in my daily experience. and you look at -- >> charlie: in the national security. >> you can look, and we can talk about this if you want. if you look at the year 2011, just that year, i think we can
go through a set of decisions that he made, whether it be the osama bin laden decision, the decision to finish the work in iraq. the major strategic decision to turn in country's attention to a very big multifaceted way and i see you talked about this yesterday, up to asia. decisions on the defense budget for the next ten years. decision to in a coalition undertake another military operation in libya and do so successfully. the decision he ok on the trade agreement. so again, my experience with president obama has been one where a lot of decisions get made. they get made crisply and well informed. and they get explained well, i think. >> charlie: okay. we talked about troops in australia. should the chinese look at this and say my god, you know, they're coming over here and they want to contain us. >> no. i think the way china sould view it and i think does view it at the highest levels, and again
i think i spent a much time with the senior chinese policy maker than anyone on our team over the last three years. the united states, psident obama da side that we were under weighted in china. anyone can understand we have put a tremendous amount of resources, mind sharing time and attention into the wars in the middle east and asia. we have tens of thousands of american men and women there. >> charlie: n harm's way. >> absolutely. at the very same time this was going on, at the precise moment asia w risng. the president oked at this and set we're overweighted frankly in these wars. and we are undr weighted in asia and we need to have mull fi -- multifaceted approach to bring mr back to the leaderip position that it has in asia
given it's the most dynamic place inhe world and the united states has an historic commitment here and we need to reassert it. the way we thank you aout it with the chine is the united states is a pacific resident power. the united states has provided for over half a century the platform that is allowed the economic and social development to take place, the security plat form. that we have al lies a partners and others in the gion that we have obligations to and we're going to meet hose obligations. and the result of tht will be a more stable and peaceful place for everyone to operate in. so that the environment within china, within which china rises is going to be a more stable and solid place. flaw, i'll be straighi'll be ad- straight with you. we provide a balance meeting our obligations and commitments to them. i think the chinese look at this and i think understand that this is an historical role of the united states and a role of the
united states that is going to continue to play. it's not just military. it's important, computer side, it's also economic. it's diplomatic. and the last thing i'll say is that what the president saw in the trip that he took tend of last year which was a culmination of three years of strategic war. he saw a tremendous demand signal, if you will. demand for u.s. leadership. it's a lot of reasons for that. some of it has to do with chinese strategies and conduct. some of it has to do with historic u.s. roles. but the solution is very -- >> charlie: i'm told the leaders of tho countries look at the united states and say, you know, we see the chinese coming. we see them getting stronger and we worry about standing alone. are you here with us. do you want to play a role becae we need you to play the role. >> i think the countries of the region, and we certainly saw this at the east asia summit at the end of last year. as i said it's a tremendous
demand for u.s. leadership. this by the way, again there are a lot of reasons for it. but it's been an important goal for the president. when the president ra for office he said i'll end the war in iraq, i'm more tightly focus on our principal terrorist country, al-qaeda and restore -- which is why all the efforts we've done in asia, including the military commitment have beenimportant. >> charlie: but can you look at china which clearly is going to have the world's largest aggregate economy by20 25 if not sooner they will therefore have increasing primacy in affairs in the world. they will have an increasing role that will match our influence. >> i don't think that analysis is right and i'll talk about it for a couple seconds. i don't think the chinese think that analysis is right, by the way. in fact i know they don't think that's right. >> charlie: part of that reason, it gs way back, you
just want to get strong -- >> it's the same. but this is what i would say about that. bob kagan did a piece, the conservative historian, a piece in the republic and addesses this in a sophisticated way. >> charlie: what did he say that you agreed with. >> a number of things. number one he makes the moment if you look back at history, even if those times when the united states was said to have maximum pwer. the united states couldn't snap its fingers and havecountries do exactly what they wanted to do in every instance. indeed during every period there are going to be disappointments in your foreign policy. and he catalogs that. but secondly, he also makes the point that you have to look at comprehensive nature of power, right? not just a unit dimensional discussion of power. if you look at the united states, i would think it actually stacks up quite favorably. there ara number of articles on this.
dan dressdon did a piece on foign policy. if y look at it, the economy in the world the motion innovative economy in the world, it's the most powerful military in the world. this is a comprehensive -- >> charlie: we're talking about a trend. >> no, but a comprehensive assessment of power. there's no, the united states is not trending down through military pwer. >> charlie: someone else is trendingp. >> but we're not trending up. i'm taking the whole concept, demography. a very powerful trend in the united states. ergy. and energy independence. charlie: a few possibilities. >> exactly. and we're about to have a game changein terms of a natural, great natural resource the united states has. in the last two i'll mention. is something that doesn't get discussed as much. bob is discussing this. alliances and relationships in the world, leadership. no nation in the world has the global alliance system that the united states does.
chinese don't have it, no country has i. where for 50 or 60 years we have in europe in the form of nato, in asia with a numbe of number s in japan and australia. no one has that global alliance system. the first numbers we can call, right, to work together on a global problem. the second thing is the uality of the leadership. you see this in asia. there's a difference between having influence and having people want to be led by you. the united states has the latter. so i am very optistic about the united states' position in the world going forward. and i think you do have to think about this in a, you can't think about this in a static way or in a one dimnsional way going forward. >> charlie: iran. where are we because you get the feeling that somethingbeyond threats are going on, become sanctions or clearly van impact. oil sanctions may have a deepening impact, there's covert
action that's clearly had an impact. we don't know who is responsible but we have ideas about that. is there a sense that the iranians are feeling that and they really do want to have serious negotiations. >> i can't answer the last of the questions but i can address the lead up to it, if i might. i do believe that the ranians arfeeling a tremendous amount of pressure. when we came into office, there was really, iranian was internally no threat. it was on a rise in the region and it had divided the international community. a lot of questions about should we give the iranians the benefit of the doubt. that's not the case toay. we have, i think through the strategy that president obama laid out been able to move ourselves to the following position and i'll get your question. a multidimensional approach. we offered the iranians engagement when we cameinto
office. >> charlie: in a letter to the supreme leader. >> ion't want to get into te details of it. i don't know if it is or not but i'm not going to get into the details of it. if we offered directly to the iranian government -- yes, i saw that. the iranians fail to take the united states with the national security up on tt. lots of reasons for that. historical inertia ad the elections. >> charlie: the iranian elections. >> exactly. but it was bon fide offer of engagement but it allowed the united states at that point to say if you're not going to engage we're going to increase the pressure. the policy of president obama and the united states is to prevent iranian from acquiring nuclear questionens. we move the pressure track leaving open the track towards potential talks about solvng the problems. the predicated that he would continue, he would organize the coalitions. we have worked closely with our allies, we worked closely with the chinese and the russians on
this and we have taken the sanctions up now to a level that puts tremendous pressure on iran. inflation, employment, currency crises right now. >> charlie: you would have been much better off if the chinese had said we will agree to engage in sanctions on iranian oil which would have some consequence for them because they get a significant portion of their inoi own oil is come from iran. >> wput together aset of anions over the last year and-a-half or two years that brought to the point of tremendous pressure. the iranians did not seem to be willing to particular that choice, right, to come to the table. and the president said if that's not going to happen we'll increase the pressure more. where we've gone now is to the next stage which are sanctions on the import of crude oil from iran. their principal source of revenue and sanctions on their central bank which is a financier of a lot of their
underlying activity. >> charlie: what, any central bank that does business with the iranian central bank in terms of -- >> oil trac transactions that ty couldn dobusiness with the u.s. last monday the europeans took the ep of barring oil from iran, the ustralians. others around the world are taking steps. the asians are looking at it and we're in conversations now with the indians and the chinese. >> charlie: in conversations do you think you'll be succsful. >> we'll have to see. countries act in their own. it's interesting, the chinese premier was in the gulf a week ago. >> charlie: right, looking at sources of oil by the way. >> that's what i wanted to get to. and king very strong statements about the iranian program. because in his life, because chinese and the united states here are converging. they're converging and they're converging in this way. it is in neither of our interests to have an unstable situation in the persian gulf. so for example when the iranians
threatened to close the straight of vert moot [indiscernible] >> charlie: there's no way they can close that down. >> that's a military judgment i cannot opine on. >> charlie: you don't need to opine on it, you need to have a plan to do it. >> but i can say this, right. they try to do that, right. and i think our military necks believe that they can, right. we have the ability to open it up. and we do so. >> charlie: stay with iran. there was an interview in srael with the defense minister as you well know, that he thinks the red line is further along than we think it is. other words it's further out than we think it is. did you agree with his
conclusion. >> i don't want to comment on mr. barack's economic comment. >> charlie: but you know what he said. >> we work very clsely with mr. barack on a range of security issues, point one. point two our view i that what should happen is that the world community, the international mmunity which is unified now as it never has been. should continue to confront iran with pressure. and that we are moving to the next stage of this as i was the next stage of the pressure is on the oil profit and on their central bank, to try to force the iranians to make a smarter chice. what have the iranian people gotten out of this gamut? >> charlie: they will make a smart choice. >> i can't guaranteehey'll make a smart choice which is the united states is prepared for any contingency. which is why when the united states says all options are on the table it is our jobs to ensure the options really are on
the table and we have the kip bail tease and the -- cabilities and assets to pursue those options, if we have to, and we do. so our point today, we believe that the plan, the approach that has the best chance of success for our policy goes to prevent ir from making, acquiring a nuclear weapon and making a smarter choice. the national interest is to continue at the multivecr approach. it's the sanctions, it's the political isolation. >> charlie: it's a covert action. >> i obviously -- >> charlie: is a realty that's there. >> as national computer advisor i'm really not going to have any discussion with u about cove action on nternationally broad cast television shows. i won't even do that on your morning shows. >> charlie: let me say this. i wish you ould. but i do respect that, very much so. but let me just stay with that for a second. i was at a dinner one night and there was a high ranking chinese sitting next to me at the
dinner. and i started talking about why iran, why china's not presented to do more with respect to iran. he said tome if you find, if you and te indicates find addition -- and the united states find an additional source with iran maybe we can have a conversation. >> i think they're becoming more closely aligned because of the interest, and not the instability in the gulf. the joint interest and not seeing the iranians behave in an aggressive manner. the joint interest in not having them cause instability in the gulf and the arab world and the muslim world generally which they are about right now and have been about ing. >> charlie: trying to take advantage. >> trying to take advantage of the arab spring. they didn't cause the arab spring and they haven't had much success. and of course if you think about it, the narrative of the arab spring of non-violent democratic change, right, is so contrary to the direction of the iranian government. >> charlie: the individual and everything else. >>ince again, against the
direction iran is going which is a suppression, a suppression of the democratic chage and dissent and real politics. and the accumulation of powein the military security forces i iran. just the opposite of where the arab spring is. but they have tried to take -- if you go back to the china question, is that i do think at there are other suppliers in the world who would step in. again, i can't speak for these governments but the governor of arabia had a couple million barrels of excess capacity. we have been working and lots of people have been working to bring that oil supply back on-line. iraq is working to increase its oil production into the world. and i do think they will be alternatives. >> charlie: can you tell me, i do have the impression there's some kind of dialogue is going on with the iranians. somehow, back channels. how would we send the signato the iranians if we wanted to get
our message clear. >> a couple points on that. we have offered the iranians, indeed on behalf of the p5 plus 1 group, the eurpean commission has asked the iranians to sit down with that group. which has been the principal group that has been interacting with them. they have not answered that. they've said a couple things, they said recently they would be willing to. they need to answer that letter, they need to come sit down at the table. that's the first thing. >> charlie: you're saying this evening if the iranians are serious they should go talk to the group. >> we'll meet you at x, y and z date and we'll have serious conversation and the nuclear conversation will be on the table. >> charlie: that's a way for them to suggest, to enter negotiations. >> yes. now we have other way, diplomatic methods which we can send clear messages but that's the principal form right now to have this discussion. >> charlie: you're waiting to hear from them for them to take that initiative.
and you invited them to take that initiative. >> of course they haven't, and so we ave continued awe long the pressure -- along the pressure track to force a smarter choice by the iranians. what have the iranian people gotten from their leadership in the pursuit of this action, of this program. they've gotten an economy that's been wrecked. they've gotten a great civilization and a great country. diplomatically isoted in the world. all their neighbors in the gulf countries now have really come together in an unprecedented way to really, in solidarity oppose these efforts. interesting. the pollster did a poll last year. again these are kind of gross measurements but they're indicative, i think. in 2006-2007, in most of the muslim world, the positive view of the iranian regime is a revolutionary regime, had been in the 70's or 80's.
same poll in the last year, right. in most of the countries, lebanon was an ou out lier. >> charlie: why is that. >> because of the sectarian conflict. it's because of stiffing the -- >> charlie: in lebanon. >> exactly. >> charlie: and in rac iraq to. >> iraq, absolutely. that regime has lost in the region whatever affinity it had in the region. charlie, it's been dramatic. >> charlie: it raises the question should the united states have done more at the time that a million iranians were in te streetsprotesting elections. should it have sent a stronger more direct message to the iranian leadership and the heroic people in the streets. >> i think that's a fair
question, you know. at the time, judgments were made that it would actually not, to get publicly involved would not have advanced the, advanced that cause. i think inight of thearab spring, it's a fair question. and the presint of he united states stands i think today quite forthrighting on a society principles, opposin reare pression and violence. for universal rightsand for governments to respond to their ople. >> charlie: it seems o me there is something there but i'll leave it as it is based on what you said. there's also his. the drone missile that came down in iran. there's people who suggest that they in fact have something to do with that. that they had some capacity to use gps and other things to bring that down. and that there's extraordinarily valuable information there. and that people like the chinese or even the russian are prepared
to help them find out more about that technology and it could be vitally important to them to use in the future. >> again, i don't want to get into a lot of details about this except to tell you the following. i don't know of anything that the iranians had to do with the crh. >> charlie: you're not ruling it out. >> i don't believe that's the case. >> charlie: are you rule it out. >> i don't believe it's the case. it's not the case. that's not what happened, how about that. >> charlie: that's not what happened, all right. so do you know what happened? >> well, do i know what happened? i think i know what happened. >> charlie: okay, fair enough. and are you worried that somehow through the help of the chinese or the russians they might be able to do something here that take this very aluable piece of american technology which was enormously beneficial and use it to their advantage. >> i don't want to comment any further on it.
>> charlie: that's it. >> charlie: it sound.it soundss ncern to you is it not. >> i don't know about that. i don't want to comment on that. i didn't say it was an enormous concern. >> charlie: fair enough. staying in the region, the arab spring. where it is today. and look what happened muslim brotherhood and egypt. look what mit happen in other places. is this something that had to simply work its way out without us having a huge influence? >> a couple points on that. it depends. each of these, well, the arab spring in general reflected that, obviously poor governance for a long time is a key one combined ex with a communicatios revolution for people to talk to each other. and critically to alow people in their countries to see what was going on outside their borders and it was no longer possible to sell people on the proposition that everything was going great here compared to th
rest of the world because they weren't going greathere mpared to the rest of the world. and they knew it and they saw it. so you had this tremendous change that's taking place. th said because of the differences in governance and the differences in the state of development and the differences in make up of these countries, it's different in each country. in each country is going to have to work out its own path. now the united states and the international community acted for example in libya. and it was decisive with respect to that, to that country. >> charlie: people there have said to me if that had not happened that would have been a bad consequence. >> yes. when the president sat in the situation room and waspresented with the evidence that of which qaddafi's statements were and intentionsere with respect to his opponents that are gather in a city of 700,000people they coast, he determined if we could
do somethi about this we should and we did. and qaddafi is no longer. >> charlie: we are influenced by what the president of france had done? >> well no, i think this is a decision made bth president. >> charlie: we might have been prepared to go in regardless what transhad done. >> o. this is a very important point. what the the president decided is this. is that we were willing to back a military action if we could get a coalition together because we weren't going to do it unilaterally. we wouldn't put u.s. boots on the ground in another muslim country. we wanted to get arab participatio not just rhetorical participation and we did with the uae and 9 -- and the jordannian and we tried to put together a coalition. that evening when he was going through the analysis talked on the telephone with president tzar questisy and primsarkozy.he
can put on the table here and if we can put a coalitiontogether. what the uted states wl do is we will take the ld right now because we can operate immediately. we have the capability, no other country does, have right now make a decision to go forward and take out all the air defensiv systems in libya and to make it appropriate then for a no fly zone to be put in place and four operations to begin to protect civilians. and that's what we did. on the understanding that the ongoing multimonth effort of the no fly zone in protecting the civilians will be taken over by the al nay allies in nato. it was reached on the telephone that evening and that's what we did. >> charlie: so what's to keep similar circumstances from taking place in syria? >> well, syria's a different circumstance. i'll go through each of them because i do want to get to egypt. the mitary leadership there who came in after mubarak, had been able toput together
working with the counterparts a free and fair election. they have elected that lower parliament from 500 members. it's about 7% of thm in so-called islamist parties. difference among these parties and we want to make sure w understandthat. but they have afreely elected parliament at this point and they'll go and they'll elect an uppe house. and the goal now is to elect the new president in that system by july of 2012. the challenge. the challenge there is obviously completing that systemic democratic effort. but it's also economic. this is the big challenge after these kind of, after a revolution like this is economic. and it's rising expectations and the test is whether or not the governments can deliver on the economic promise of the revolutions. and that's where the international community can help, charlie. to circle back to your qustion. where we are, you know, i think it's a good thing, for example
now, that the egyptians have, are in conversations with the imf about providing short term financing. they have a financing gap that they need to take care of, given the expenditures they v given the drop in revenues. the ga, the international community got togher on it. this is wheri think we can really help puh this through successfully. and we also have to i think continue to holdthese governments to high standards in terms of the concept. >>harlie: are you satisfied with the actions of the military who are in control in egypt. >> i think that you have to give the military credit for imcrementing what they said they were going to do. and that is a free and fair society elections heading towards a fully elected civilian government. i think you have to give them credit for that. things aren't perfect in these situations. and we do, we should remember that they acted in the interest
of the state. they acted a year ago this week in a non-violent way, really deal with the fall of their, of the guy who had been their leader for 30 years. all of them did, right. >> charlie: even when he was -- >> you have to give him credit for that, i think charlie. was it perfect? no. weave a situation right now with mgos in egypt where we need them to work that through and to treat them with appropriate level of, in an appropriate way. but i do think that egypt politically is on the road to a free and fair election. now we will have a new circumstance. we'll have a parliament that islamist mjority. and at the new world. >> charlie: and we wait to see. because if that works, some have said that if islamists in pwer are different thn islamist challenging power. but there's another place in the
world in which the military may be add odds wit at odds with tht that happens to be pakistan. where were we. what is pakistan and what influence do we have. we give a lot of aid to pakistan. >> it continues to be a complicated relationship between the united states and pakistan. it needs to be in the first instance though need that they have been partners with the united states in taking the most actions against terrorists of any country in the world. and that's important. and they have lost, they've lost thousands of soldiers in their effort against these insurgencence. that's the first one. the second point is we're running a war in afghanistan on their border and there have been, you know, obviously a lot of compilations that arise from that. on the positive side, they have been a transit point for the united states to supply our war effort and that's appreciat by the united states. >> crlie: it will be a
point for the taliban -- >> on the negative side is the safe haven issue which remains a very difficult issue. and we had this terrbl incident of november 22nd, where a couple dozen pakistani soldiers were killed by our forces in a accident. >> charlie: is that limiting thei activities at all? >> well, it's caused asyou can imagine, it's completing the relationship. you can imagine if in ths untry that it happened, there's a parliamentary inquiry under way. they are doing what they call an assessment of the united states pakistan relationship. our judgment is that given our interest in the region, given our interest in continuing our count terrorism efforts in the region and other efforts that we need to work thrugh thes tough issues and continue to work together on things we can do together. >> charlie: the prime minister of cutter has suggested the need to have troops coming from the outside from the arab league and other places in syria to take, to protect senior
citizens who may be in opposition to the governments. what do we think f that. >> that's not on the table for the united states as an option but this is what i think. one is that the assad regime will not be in power for some period of time. i can't tell you tonight how long it's going to take but i think most of the aw assesent is that regime will fall. charlie: that's the prodiction as early as this spring. >> tremendous pressure on them. the most interesting thing and the biggest pressure on the syrians is the actions of the arab league and their labors in the arab world who have i think been appalled b the conduct of the senior regime. you see that inthe reaction from king abdula. you see the personal reactions from turkey. >> charlie: yes. it was a very good relationship. >> there's a decade -- i can
tell you some stories about that with him on the phone with the president. >> charlie: tell me. >> the proceed has a very good working relationships. relations between the united states and turkey are in very good shape. and getting better, i think. it's a good, i think the turks have recorded this high level thing. and that's largely i think because president obama wants to work quite directly. >> charlie: it's a personal relationship on the phone and that kind of thing. >> absolutely. personal relationship on the phone and every opportunity seeing each other. >> charlie: we're not worried in the united states that some people believe prime minister is sort of looking not just to play a role in the world, in the region but also is too goo a relationsh with iran or other countries. and that he's cracking down n his own military ways that miht not be democratic. >> from the perspective of the issue that i work on every day the turks ve been a very good
partner. and continue to be a very imrtant partner. >> charlie: so you're not worried about those who believe they're leaning in another direction other than where they were interested in europe and alof that. >> i don't want to con, i don't nt to go down that path except to say tis. which is that our working relationship with them has been quite good. we have concerns about a range of press issues and human rights issues that we express. but i think on the whole, in terms of the u.s. pursuing its national interest because they've been a good partner with us and a good nato. >> charlie: and offers a real opportunity for the future. even with iran where they were prepared at one point to offer their help as a place to accept some of the enriched uranium. >> yes, they were. >> charlie: is that back on the table. >> not at this point because they haven't sat down and talked to anyone how to get a decent place in the program. >> i thank you very much for the time but let me jut say so you look ahead.
is foreign policy going to be, you've had political experience. is it going to be a big issue in this political campaign or is it going to be something having to do with the role of government and the social contracts. because the president took great ide. this is what he said, and i repeat and i'm sure he won't mind me doing it. he gathered tonight knowing the generation of heroes has made the united states safer and more respect around the world for the first time there are no americans fighting in iraq for the first time in two decades bin laden is not a threat to this country. most of the top leunlts have been defeated. the taliban has been broken and someroops have started to come home. this is teamwork oftheamerican armed forces. al-qaeda have been defeated you think or close to defeated. >> i think al-qaeda has been degraded very substantially and they are in the weakest position and we are on the road to degrading them even further through a very persistent global effort.
>> charlie: and targeting effort. >> and a targeted effort. right. deciding wh the enemy is and undertaking a set of efforts to achieve your goals and a targeted intensive way. and that's what we expect al-qaeda on the issue and politics. i have run, i think, a very bipartisan shop and our foreign policy as directed by the presidenhas been bipartisan. a lot of bipartisan support. i work very closely with a nuer o members of congress. i will say this. i think that the summary you re there iscertainly a summary of the national security results of president obama's efforts. but at its core, this is what the united states has done over the last three years. >> charlie: they stopped --
military, the american people support these things -- a congress that has to a act in certain cases. >> i think we have been lucky in our president as we talked at the top of this interview, a president hpresident who bringsd makes tough decisions. they results, charlie are the results of the efforts of the united states of america. and i've, predent obama's the third president i've worked with closely. and i get less cynical the longer i work on these things and the longer i work with our president. >> charlie: and more hopeful. >> and more hopeful. i come to the conclusion that we have been, we're very lucky. >> charlie: i thank you for your time. it's general russ of you to come here. therare many thing i didn't have a chance to talk about. i won't even list them now. i hope that i cannive them for the next -- can ave them for